Tartuffe

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Tartuffe Act 3, Scene 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Shocked, Orgon asks Tartuffe if this is true; and Tartuffe replies that it is, extravagantly and “piously” criticizing himself and telling Orgon to throw him out of the house. Once more manipulated by Tartuffe’s hypocrisy, Orgon turns on Damis, furious at his son’s supposed slander of Tartuffe, accusing Damis of making the whole thing up.
Tartuffe actually tells the truth in this moment, admitting to sins that he actually has committed. But he does so with such an act of piety that Orgon assumes that Tartuffe’s self-criticism is actually a further sign of his devoted religiosity (which is exactly what Tartuffe wants him to think). So, in a moment of dramatic irony, Orgon does not believe Tartuffe during one of the few moments in which Tartuffe tells the truth!
Themes
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Tartuffe goes even further, apparently defending Damis from his father, and telling Orgon that one should not trust in appearances. He urges Damis to insult him more, saying that he deserves the punishment for his sins. Of course this has the opposite effect, making Orgon angrier at Damis and more sympathetic towards Tartuffe.
Every time Tartuffe criticizes himself, he only makes his appearance of piety more believable in the eyes of Orgon. Further, by then using this appearance of piety to pretend to defend Damis, he uses reverse psychology to make Orgon even angrier with Damis. Of course, that Orgon falls for such reverse psychology only makes him look even more foolish.
Themes
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Religion, Piety, and Morals Theme Icon
Appearances and Beauty Theme Icon
Even further angered by what he views as Tartuffe’s blamelessness, Orgon berates and threatens his son. Tartuffe continues to “defend” Damis (which of course only makes Orgon more upset). As he becomes more and more enraged, Orgon accuses his entire household of plotting against Tartuffe, even falling on his knees because of his supposed friend’s apparent holiness. He resolves to give Mariane to Tartuffe as his bride that very night in order to “spite” them all.
Orgon believes that his family wishes to separate him from Tartuffe, when actually the opposite is true: Tartuffe has been alienating Orgon from his family. An expert at manipulation, Tartuffe knows exactly how to make Orgon more upset while maintaining his pious act. With the promised marriage to Marianne, Tartuffe has manipulated himself right into the family.
Themes
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
Appalled, Damis attempts to keep his father from carrying out this terrible course of action, but Orgon only becomes increasingly stubborn, calling his son a “monster” and a “villain” as Tartuffe begs him to stop (while secretly egging him on). Orgon becomes crazed, eventually trying to attack Damis with a stick. Physically restrained by Tartuffe, Orgon orders Damis out of his house and disinherits him. Damis exits.
The hypocrite has now caused Orgon to betroth Tartuffe to his daughter, and disinherit his own son. Orgon the foolish father was wrecked his own family. The drama and anger of this scene clearly illuminate the catastrophic nature of these actions, and again illustrate the power of both emotion and deceit.
Themes
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Fathers Theme Icon
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